This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Angelica: a large umbelliferous plant; with hollow, jointed stalks; and indented, oval, pointed leaves, set in pairs along a middle rib with an odd one at the end, containing in their veins a milky juice, which on drying turns yel-lowish: the ribs of the leaves are channelled on the upper side, and joined to the stalks by large membranous bases or sheaths. The seeds are white or pale coloured, somewhat oval, flat on one side, convex and marked with three longitudinal ridges on the other, surrounded about the edges with a leafy margin. The roots arc long and thick, externally of a dark brown colour, internally white and juicy, and when dry of a spongy texture.
1. Angelica silvestris: Pharm. Edinb. Angelica sylvestris major C. B. Angelica sylvestris Linn. Wild angelica; with all the leaves alike, except that the odd one at the end is larger than the reft. This species grows wild, in moist grounds, in several parts of England: it is perennial, and flowers in July. All the parts of this plant are similar in quality to those of the following species, but rather weaker, and hence the medicinal use of this is now superfeded by the other.
2, Angelica, Pharm. Lond. Angelica sativa Pharm. Edinb. & C. B. Angelica Archangelica Linn. Angelica, garden angelica; with the odd leaf at the end of each rib, and generally some of the others also, cut into two or three lobes.
This is found by the sides of rivulets in the mountains of Lapland, and cultivated in gardens in the different parts of Europe for medicinal purposes and for the use of the confectioners. Bohemia and Spain are supposed to produce the best; the college of London directs the roots brought from Spain only to be kept in the shops. Linnaeus, however, assures us, that it proves most vigorous on its native northern mountains (a). It is naturally a biennial plant; but if the stalks are cut down before they have run to flower, the roots send forth new heads, and may thus be continued for many years. The roots are in greatest perfection in the second spring: they should be thoroughly dried, kept in a very dry place, and frequently aired, otherwise they are apt to grow mouldy, and to be preyed upon by worms.
The roots of angelica are one of the principal aromatics of European growth, though not much regarded in the present practice. They have a fragrant agreeable smell, and a bitterish pungent taste, mixed with a pleasant sweetish-ness, glowing upon the lips and palate for a long time after they have been chewed. On wounding the fresh root early in the spring, it yields, from the inner part of the bark, an unctuous yellowish odorous juice, which, gently exsiccated, retains its fragrance, and proves an elegant aromatic gummy-resin. On cutting the dry root longitudinally, the resinous matter, in which the virtue and flavour of the angelica resides, appears concreted into little veins (b).
(a) Suenska vetensk. acad. handl. 1754.
(b) Grew, idea of philosophic. hifi. of plants, § 41.
In this state, it is readily and totally dissolved by rectified spirit, and tinges the menstruum of a bright golden colour: on distilling off the spirit from this solution, very little of the flavour of the angelica arises with it, nearly all the active matter of the root remaining concentrated in the extract. Water gains also from this root a pretty deep yellow colour, but extracts little of its taste or smell: in distillation with water, there arises a small portion of essential oil, of an highly pungent taste, and smelling strongly of the angelica: the remaining decoction, thus divested of the aromatic matter of the root, is nauseously sweetish and subacrid.
The other parts of the plant have the same kind of taste and flavour with the roots, but their active principles are far more perishable. The seeds, which come the nearest to the roots, can scarce be kept till the spring after they have been gathered, without the loss of their vegetative power, as well as a diminution of their medicinal virtue: the leaves lose greatest part of their virtue on being barely dried. For some purposes, however, they are well adapted: the fresh leaves, as well as the seeds, on being distilled with water, give over to the liquor the whole of their aromatic matter, which in this form proves sufficiently durable: some of the officinal distilled waters are flavoured with these materials, and the committee of the London college report, that after trial of sundry others, for removing the disagreeable flavour which the addition of vinegar communicates to spirituous waters, angelica was found to answer this end the most effectually. The virtue of the seeds, like that of the roots, is extracted very imperfectly by water, and completely by spirit; and though it rises totally in distillation with water, is left by spirit, almost entire, in the infpiffated extract: the spirituous tincture is of a bright straw colour, the watery infusion of a dark brown.
The stalks, candied with sugar, make an agreeable sweetmeat.